Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

Refreshments: 3:30 PM, Talk 4 - 5 PM Joint Meeting with the IEEE Life Members



Dr. Paul H. Carr, Air Force Research Laboratory Emeritus

The May/June 2007 issue of the MIT Technology Review is a design issue entitled "Beautiful Machines." This raises the questions: "What is beauty?" And "What is the nature of the creative process?"

"If everyone were cast in the same mold, there would be no such thing as beauty," according to Charles Darwin. This leads us to philosopher A. N. Whitehead's assertion: "Beauty is the harmony of contrasts." Physicist Steven Weinberg believes that beauty is more than a personal experience of aesthetic beauty. Scientific beauty is much closer to a horse trainer's enthusiasm for a beautiful racehorse. Such beauty can be measured. Can it win a race? Beauty thus resides in the interplay between the structure of its body (form) and its ability to run (function.) (1)

Physicist Murray Gell-Mann observed that the creative process has three steps:

  1. immersion and total involvement in a problem,
  2. incubation logical impasse, in which conscious thought is useless, &
  3. illumination, "aha," "eureka," when we are relaxed, contemplating the beautiful.

MIT physics Professor Victor Weisskopf expressed this in his book "The Joy of Insight." Nobel laureate Karl A. Muller had the idea leading to the discovery of the cuprate high temperature superconductors while contemplating a mandala, which is a symmetrical visual symbol of the universe.

"Positive emotions are critical to learning, curiosity, and creative thinking," according to Don Newman, former VP of Apple (2).

Hopefully our present information overload can lead to a new age of creativity and beauty, which integrates and harmonizes diverse cultures and ideas. The scientific story transcends national and cultural differences.


(1) Paul H. Carr, 2006, Beauty in Science and Spirit , www.BeechRiverBooks.com/id08, Center Ossipee, NH

  1. Don Newman, 2005, Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things , Basic Books.



Paul H. Carr has had a long and distinguished career as a research scientist. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics at Brandeis University after receiving the B.S. and M.S. degrees from MIT. From 1958 through 1961 he was on the staff of Lincoln Lab; he then served in the Army, and joined Air Force Cambridge Research Labs (AFCRL) in 1962. From 1967 to 1995, he led the Component Technology Branch at AFCRL, later Rome Laboratory and presently the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hanscom AFB where he is presently emeritus. His Branch's basic research on surface acoustic waves (SAW) contributed to signal processing filters used in radar, communication, cellular phones, and TV. The Air Force Office of Scientific Research selected his Branch as a STAR Research Team in 1990. His 80 research papers and 10 patents include contributions to microwave ultrasonics, SAW, superconductivity, and laser-activated antennas.

He has received many awards, among which are the O’Day Memorial Award for best AFCRL paper published in 1967, the 1973 AFCRL Loeser Memorial Award Lecture for sustained scientific achievement  and the 1976 Air Force Systems Command Outstanding Technical Achievement Award for a low-spurious SAW delay line, which solved "false target" problem in operational radar. In 1991 he was named the Rome Laboratory Engineer of the Year.

He was  Guest Editor, of the September, 1991 Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques (MTT) Special Issue on Microwave Applications of Superconductors.  In 1994-95 he served as Chairman of the IEEE  Boston Chapter of Microwave Theory and Techniques, MTT (89-90) He is a Life Fellow of the IEEE and a Life Member of the American Physical Society. The John Templeton Foundation awarded him a grant for his philosophy course at U Mass Lowell. His home page is www.MirrorOfNature.org

The meeting will be held at the Lincoln Lab Auditorium at 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM.  Registration is in the main lobby.  Foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests.  Please pre-register by e-mail to reception@ll.mit.edu and indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you register. Please use the Wood Street Gate.  For directions go to http://www.ll.mit.edu For other information, contact Ed Altshuler, Chairman, at (781)377-4662, edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil, or Paul Carr 603 413 6566, paulcarr@alum.mit.edu